Sunday, September 19, 2010

Well bred horses and homeless people.

The State of Kentucky and the City of Lexington will be hosting the World Equestrian Games for sixteen days beginning this next Saturday. As you may or may not know we have the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. The Park was created on a former Saddlebred Horse farm and purchased by the State in the late 70's. The Park was originally created in celebration of the Thoroughbred horse. Now the Park is run for all breeds and types of horses. The Kentucky Horse Park is where the World Equestrian Games will be held.
The Games are a big deal here; a really big deal. The have never been held in the United States. In fact they have never been held outside Europe. It took years of work to get them scheduled here when awarded for this year in 2005. The State has made $75 million dollars in improvements to the Park in preparation for the wide range of events and accommodations for visitors from around the world. A corporate sponsor has paid $75 to add their name to the official name of the Games. This sponsor is Alltech.

At that time before a world wide recession, it was anticipated over 600,000 people would purchase tickets and attend. As of today 325,000 tickets have been purchased. Looking at their website it's quite a clicking exercise to find out the price of tickets. I did find general admission tickets for a week day afternoon event cost $30. Feel free to investigate further if you're curious. I'm sure they are quite pricy for the good seats.

Approximately 500 horses are being airlifted this week from Europe, Australia and South America. This is the largest commercial airlift of horses ever. The FEDEX planes used in shipping these very well bred horses is specially outfitted for comfortable horse transport. As many as 24 attendants work each flight. Food is horse gourmet and their health and comfort is tantamount to ultra first class.

As many as 995 competitors will be coming from fifty-eight countries.
It is estimated even at a lower level of ticket sales the economic impact of the Games will be over $160 million. Hotels within driving distance are booking fast. Homes are being shared for a fee. Restaurants are creating special Equestrian Games menu. There are festivals, trade group shows, concerts and a myriad of events scheduled to entertain visitors and encourage them to leave bags of money here with us.Further news reported by WLEX-TV yesterday:
Discussion among people familiar with the way other Kentucky cities have handled large events, suspect police will be rounding up the homeless and depositing them in the temporary shelters just prior to the start of the Games.
Lexington's homeless are being offered two temporary shelters to sleep in while the city plays host to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Catholic Action Center director Ginny Ramsey told the Lexington Herald-Leader that between 100 and 130 people routinely sleep on Lexington's streets, particularly Phoenix Park, during the warm weather. The group is opening the shelters from Sept. 22 through Oct. 10.
I mention the reported $1 billion short-fall predicted for the 2010-2011 budget. All State departments were asked to cut 4% from their previous budgets. Non-merit State employees are being laid off. The Legislature had to go into special session to pass a budget that does not seem to meet the needs of the state in the areas of education, Medicaid and infrastructure upkeep.

Regardless of this, $75 million was spent to improve the Horse Park and prepare for a corporate sponsored [Alltech] event. The $160+ million predicted return is not to the state. It's a return to hotels, restaurants and industry businesses.


  1. I like how when they have big events in cities with a homeless problem, they run them to a different area, or put them into temporary shelters and then it all goes back to normal when it's over...sad.

  2. It does sound an exciting event, and I am sure it will bring great PR to the city - but (sigh) yes, one does question why, if a budget can be found to host such an event, the same enthusiasm can't be directed towards funding help for the most vulnerable citizens residing there.

  3. I've been to the Kentucky Horse Park. It was pretty nice. But, we didn't go in because it was a bit pricey given how little time we had when we were passing through.

    Cities and states are always making huge investments in places like that or a stadium or sports arena or whatever. They do say making the claim that there will be a good return on investment from tourism and such. I don't think the pay off is ever as good as the projections.

    And yes, almost every city clears out the homeless before some major event. It doesn't get much press and unfortunately the homeless don't get much sympathy.

  4. We had the same thing happen here in Vancouver during the Winter Olympics this year. It's very sad.

    Great post!

    And see...? :-) You have a new post, and I have commented.

  5. Yellow Dawg: Yep, I know it's the same all over. Sigh.

    Shrinky: Of course if government were to help disadvantaged more than corporations it would be said to be socialist.

    Jay: I agree. It's expensive to tour the Park. Not as expensive as it is to sit in the new stands and watch the Games though!

    Jo: Thanks for the comment. I'll try to figure out how to take the verification thing off. Now, can we all agree to remove automatic play music from our blogs? That's one of my pet peeves. SMILE

  6. I thought the government was being labeled socialist because they WERE helping big business... ;o)


  7. speaking of lexington, have you seen the tv show "justified".

    the star is seth bullock from deadwood and it takes place in lexington. it's good.

  8. Red Shoes: I dunno. I thought a government had to own the means of production to be socialist; similar to the probably temporary 61% ownership of GM. Giving money to corporate America that does not give the Federal Government ownership is not supposed to be socialist, but I wouldn't count on most people going batshit of it understanding that.

    billy pilgrim: Yes, I've seen some of the first season shows. Has the second season started? The main character's home town is in Harlan, in Eastern Kentucky, though he was on assignment in Miami when he did something his bosses didn't like. He is based in Lexington KY now on the show, though I don't see many city scenes. Lexington people would be upset if you said they were Eastern KY. They think they are more cosmopolitan than Louisville and are described as Central KY. SMILE

  9. I read a report, I believe in the Wall Street Journal some time ago, that stated most events of this type, along with sport stadium builds/renovations usually come nowhere close to generating the revenue projected. Taxpayers are often misled this way.

  10. Loved your article and seeing if my posting works. By the way, a lot of people believe that Hitler was a socialist and that he overthrew the German government in some sort of coup d'etat. So you are correct, not much chance of people getting that government ownership part of your comment.

  11. Man that is way to deep for me to even think about yikes

  12. Just Plain Tired: I know. I've already seen this happen with other projects in this city where the local government put millions in without return. The return on these Games will be reports.

    Gbaun52: LOL That's ok. Thanks for the kind words. Glad to see your blog is up so get writing!

    Just telling it like it is: Makes your head hurt huh? Happens to me all the time.

  13. All kinds of games & Olympics are a boon to corporations - they get to advertise - and to local businesses.

    However, if they can house the homeless for the duration, why can't they house them all the time?

  14. Will there be jousting? Horsey pole vault? How about and equestrian demolition derby?

    They could have saved money by letting the horses swim over.

  15. The city tried to get rid of the homeless when the Olympics were here. Wasted effort. They just moved down the road. The sad thing was how the city and the Olympic Association treated the vendors. Had them set up in an area that was not conducive to spectator traffic and charged them outrageous fees. It was an embarrassment. But the Olympic big wigs, their wives and children made asses of them selves because the are exempt from arrest and prosecution. I refuse to watch any Olympic events since then.

  16. Wolynski: You have it with the "However".

    Grant: Do horses swim oceans? Funny idea though.

    Coffeypot: The only way I can figure the homeless won't be homeless is if each of us take in 1 homeless person, give them a home and make them part of our family.

  17. Round them all up and enclose them for the duration. That way the city gets to look good, and nobody gets mugged!

    Seriously though, the world over - there are some homeless people who are un-housable. They don't want/are unable to conform and in some cases have been helped to find accommodation but end up back on the street simply because they cannot cope with responsibility of any kind. It is nobody's fault and a sad fact.

  18. I can't watch those things. I'm always convinced a horsie is going to break it's leg while I'm watching if I do.

  19. Sarah: I know there is always some who seem to be hopeless. A large majority of the homeless are there because of an illness untreated or a lost paycheck or something relatively small.

    tattytiara: They do break a leg on occasion. I'm a thoroughbred racing fan and when a horse goes down it breaks my heart, but I still watch.


Comments are encouraged.